Everyone loves me but who should be my recommenders?

You’ve interacted with a lot of people who know you very well, but your great Aunt Mary’s gushing comments will probably not get you into graduate school. If not everyone is appropriate as a graduate school recommender, who should you ask to write these important letters?

When reviewing letters of rec, who would you consider to be the best resource of information (e.g. research advisors, academic advisors, professors, etc.)?

Research mentors
-Dr. James Patton

Research advisors are typically the best source of information. Professors or employers who know the candidate well are next.
-Dr. Todd Graham

Research adviser. We’ve had students who do better in the classroom than their peers but less well at the bench.
-Dr. Richard O’Brien


Would you rather see a great personal letter from a a professor that taught a class or a fairly good letter from a research faculty mentor?

The research faculty mentor is in the best position to provide an evaluation. A letter from a research faculty mentor is valuable even if it is only a “fairly good letter”.
-Dr. Tim Cover

Having even a fantastic letter from a professor that taught a class definitely cannot replace a letter from a research faculty member. Even though you may feel closer with a teacher or academic advisor, the research mentor will be able to comment on your research abilities, which matter more.
-Dr. Beth Bowman

I would only want to see a great letter from the research advisor
-Dr. Roger Chalkley


Does it help if the recommender has a connection to Vandy?

-Dr. Bill Valentine

-Dr. Christine Konradi

-Dr. Maria Hadjifrangiskou

Agree? Disagree? We'd love to hear your discussion!

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